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Booked for Safekeeping (Part I)

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Booked for Safekeeping (Part I)

Published 1960

Fascinating documentary made to train police officers in the assistance and management of mentally ill and confused persons, produced in New Orleans by eminent filmmaker George C. Stoney using real New Orleans police officers as actors. A little-known ethnographic classic that is strongly rooted in the place where it was made.

Run time 19:15
Producer Stoney Associates
Sponsor U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare, The Louisiana Association for Mental Health, The National Institute of Mental Health
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


Demonstrates the proper management of mentally ill persons by members of the large city police department to prepare the mentally ill persons for their subsequent medical treatment. Describes the different types of mentally disturbed people a police officer must deal with, such as the senile, the mentally retarded, and the attempted suicides. Stresses the need to talk with the family to get a person's background, using the case of a mental patient who feels his neighbors are planning to kill im. Shows a case in which a policeman handles a mentally disturbed person improperly. Points out the need for 24-hour medical help for police offices who deal with the mentally disturbed.

Danger Lurks Safety Psychology Psychiatry Law Enforcement Emotional disturbances EDPs Emotionally disturbed persons Psychiatric intervention Mental illness


Reviewer: Dan L. - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 16, 2013
Subject: Great film but don't dra too many conclusions
I can't believe the reviews here that conclude that the police and society used to be so much more civilized. These films were made precisely because nobody had a clue what to do with the mentally ill. They were also made out of necessity, because the mentally ill were probably very inadequately treated. E.g. if the person tries to commit suicide and 'laws permit' keep him until he can see a doctor and keep him where he can 'more or less' be observed all the time. I can just hear the police then: 'you want us to watch these people all the time??' well, 'more or less'.... New Orleans police also has a long storied history...
Reviewer: Pleonic - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 5, 2011
Subject: A Very Artistic Training Film
One of the most fascinating police training films here on the Archive. This is at least how police were supposed to deal with the mentally ill in 1960's New Orleans. The scenes of the police trying to calm and restrain the subject are quite interesting to watch.
Reviewer: manwithabrick - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 5, 2009
Subject: Police who live in their communities understand them
Interesting video.

I wonder how the mentally ill man wielding a brick would have fared? In Cincinnati, he was shot by police.
Reviewer: Onimusha - favoritefavorite - August 26, 2008
Subject: Honesty?
Can't you tell it was a propaganda documentary made to to make the authorities look good.
Reviewer: andrew_zito - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 30, 2007
What most of these reviewers do not understand is that:

Back in the BAD OLD DAYS police often proceeded more humanely more as one with the community as today now hiding protected behind their fancy equipment, fancy cars, fancy tactics, fancy vests, fancy toys, fancy psychological counseling, fancy lawyers, they merely do not give a damn (just but like before) except before they did because they could get killed if they acted like cowboy aholes.

SO mow meet the Terminators.

Reviewer: unzar - favoritefavoritefavorite - December 10, 2006
Subject: Paul makes money
Crazy Paul lunges at a cop with a knife. The cop hits Paul in the shins with a chair and Paul falls down. A celebrity-lawyer tells Paul his dignity has been violated. The lawyer tells a jury made up of reviewers that Paul's self-respect has been trampled by the foot of oppression that takes pleasure in causing pain to poor people and minorities. Paul gets $3 million dollars from the taxpayers, then goes home and kills his wife. The lawyer gets $15 million and a new yacht. The End.
Reviewer: ERD - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 7, 2006
Subject: Excellent documentary
This is one of the best documentaries I have seen. I wish the police would be as patient and caring now as then.
Reviewer: BakedDon - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 22, 2006
Subject: Way back before a the curruption of the machine
Now police are security for hire to the global elite. With the scary black uniform and helmet they look like storm troopers. Oh NO, the Police state is comming and the prison planet is here.
Reviewer: dejf1 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 16, 2006
Subject: is very godd
Reviewer: Andrew Zito - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 9, 2005
An Amazing Great documentary file to compare and adjudge the historical differences between the humanistic endoctination/propaganda/training film presented in the HEYDAY of LARGE SCALE INSTITUTIONALIZATION AND treatment ABUSE and the present THUG GOON TACTICS of the current police mindset in 2005 which are all too quick to draw letal and dangerous weapons, not ask questions to deal with people not dogs.

Reviewer: HistoryTeacher - favoritefavoritefavorite - December 7, 2005
Subject: A Mixed Review, Actualy...
Five stars for its attempt at describing a more humane set of responses to police encounters with mentaly ill people, and zero stars for actually poitraying techniques for doing so.

In contrast to what another reviewer states below, I belive that a police officer in that time would have been more likely to transition to lethal force than one today, and the situation with the man with the knife would have most likely ended up with him dead. In showing a less confrontational and aggressive mode of dealing with deranged suspect, the film makers went too far the other way and depicted scenarios where the officer is placed in excessivly risky situation. The officer entering the room with the knife-wielding man places him in an incredible amount of danger, and in clear violation of what is known today as the "21-foot rule": with sidearm holstered, a man can cover 21 or fewer feet in less time than you can draw and fire.

But, the film is correct in advocating that mentaly ill people be held in the least restrictive environment possible, particularly NOT in a jail cell unless absolutly essential.

Good-hearted, but encouraging the use of bad tactics. Hence, the mixed review.
Reviewer: JimBennett - favorite - December 6, 2005
Subject: Totally Naive
The policeman's primary obligation, whether you like it or not, is to make it home to his family at the end of his tour and to do so with the same amount of orifices he went to work with. Any experienced police officer would cringe at the techniques presented here. As someone who has had first hand experience in dealing with mentally disturbed persons,I can tell you that this is a training film that shows exactly what not to do. There is no way a police officer should allow a mentally disturbed person to get that close to him with a weapon. Unlike the person portrayed in the film, they do not move in slow motion. The reality is if a police officer allowed that to happen, there would have been a Police funeral. Even after the subject was under control, the police in this film continued to make critical mistakes. It's just plain dumb to put your hand anywhere near the subject's mouth. Do it and your friends will be calling you "three finger Louie". (if you're lucky) If you're not, you'll bring AIDs, Hep-B or some other nice communicable disease home to your family. This film is scary and anyone who thinks it portrays a real life situation is totally naive.
Reviewer: Seattle_guy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 4, 2005
Subject: Times have changed
The mentally ill person in the film would of been shot and killed by a "modern" any twon USA police force.

Ever since this "war on drugs" farce started we have lost rights we used to have. A search warrant is signed by a judge just because the cops want it.

Police over react to everything. They shut down major freeways for hours because of some minor incident.

They pull their guns and kill to fast these days.

Sadly it is the police against the citizens. If we are not one of them we are their enemies.

Police don't care anymore they are just feed up and have seen to much to care.

I wish I had the answer.
Reviewer: rodrigo segundo - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 3, 2005
Subject: mmmmmmmmmmmm
Reviewer: vspar - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 15, 2005
Subject: Then an now
Excellent example of a civilized society of the past compared to the present.
Understanding the frustrations of the newage police with the never ending law of rights.
Excellent film, recommended.
Especially, to refresh the memeory of what was the true "good old days".
Reviewer: ElectricBlack - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 8, 2005
Subject: Interesting, Gripping
An interesting and gripping clip. This is not the whole program, however. Do a search for Part II for the 10-minute finish.
Reviewer: ROI-AUS - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 1, 2005
Subject: Have you guys seen tools like GeoVid
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Have a look around!
Reviewer: Geoff Alexander - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 16, 2004
Subject: Seeing this film would have prevented a killing
In 2003, a woman wielding a vegetable peeler was shot and killed by a San Jose Police officer in a scene nearly identical to the one played out in "Booked for Safekeeping", made 43 years earlier. This underscores the value of many of these older films. Read the story at:
Reviewer: huskobon - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 31, 2004
Subject: WOW! That was the best!
The was the best simulation of an arrest ever! I loved the feel of the situation, it was well played out! The interaction between Paul and the cop made my jaw slowly drop!
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 11, 2004
Subject: Put That Knife Down, OK? We're Your Friends
This early 60s police training film, made in New Orleans, was designed to educate officers in how to handle people who are mentally ill, a type of situation that is more common in police work than you might think. The film is quite well-made and realistic, showing us scenes of police officers handling a confused, senile old lady making a scene at a grocery store; a depressed man who tried to kill himself by jumping off a bridge; a frightened, paranoid psychotic armed with a knife; and a catatonic who doesn'tspeak English who suddenly goes from a state of stupor to a violent attack. The main cop in the film keeps his cool in these very difficult and dangerous situations, trying to talk down the disturbed people, and when this fails, physically subdues them in the least painful and frightening ways possible. The film points out in a number of different scenes that there are often inadequate facilities and services to deal with such people, and that is why the job falls to the police. For example, the narrator repeats several times that jail is not a good place for such persons, yet in all cases shown, the disturbed person ends up being held in a bleak jail because there is no other safe place available to keep them until they can be seen by a doctor. The New Orleans setting of the film gives it a strange, otherworldly quality (unless you're from there, I suppose). All in all, this is a fascinating film about a difficult social problem that I doubt is much different today.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 31, 2003
Subject: Cops, 1960s style!
In this riveting docu-drama, we follow the new Orleans police as they deal with mentally disturbed people. The first half of the movie is the most amazing, with great acting, amazing editing and razor sharp camerawork. The second half somewhat slows down, but provides a nice flow after the intense first half. Reccomended.
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